LAURANT GBAGBO’S SPEECH


Read Time: 12 minutes


Dear friends!
Dear comrades!
I would like first of all acknowledge the diplomats present and thank them
for honoring our congress with their presence.
I would like to acknowledge the Political Parties coming from outside, those
that were able to come and those that could not come and send messages it
is friendly, it is fraternal and I want to thank them.
I must evidently acknowledge the Ivorian Political Parties who out of
friendship have come and are present and have stayed till the end of work.
I would like in particularly acknowledge the presence of the traditional
rulers of Blogos, you must know that the „Hotel Ivoire‟ is built on the Blogos
land. Those days we were students at Lycée Classic here, there were
challenges the people of Blogos went through before the Hotel was built.
We are very grateful to the chiefs and the people of Blogos for providing
accommodation for our comrades who have nowhere to go.
I am thanking the the traditional rulers of Blogos but among them, is my
friend from Bonougou, Dagbolo Saï I, I just had a friend, just like that, a
life time friend. I am acknowledging his faithfulness, his loyalty, a true
friend, because he is very loyal he was present during all the struggles and
he fought for us. We salute you Dagbolo Saï I.
In the room there are a lot of comrades I cannot acknowledge all but I will
acknowledge few: Loko Mensah former agriculture minister of Houphoet
Boigny, senior brother Akpete Quashie former minister of Houphoet
Boigny, Madam Danielle Bonie, the professeur Pierre Sané, our friend from
France Jean-Pierre Lecoq, the prime minister Akingbo.
I would like to acknowledge our friends, from Tchad, from Ghana, from
Niger, from Mali, from Burkina Faso, from RDC and the delegation from
Congo Brazzaville. I thank you all since you are here.
I cannot start this discourse without saying a word to Sangaré. I am sorry
but it is part of my life, the fact that Sangaré is not here today is a burden
for me but it is not an handicap because we have to learn to live without
those who are no more with us but it is a huge loss for me, and I think a lot
about him.
After these acknowledgments my dear friends I want to specially greet the
foot soldiers without whom I am nobody. They have resisted, they have
fought in the villages, in towns, on the streets they have been intimidated,
teargased but they went on demonstrations they are always there! Those
people I cannot forget them. I am greeting you from the bottom of my heart
because they were at the center of all the struggles, the fights the
demonstrations.
Foot soldiers I greet you! Foot soldiers I greet you! Because I, I was arrested
and put into prison! If nobody bears my name, if no one carries on the fight
I have been forgotten! But so far as in the villages, in towns, on the streets,
in the offices there are people who bear my name and are struggling for my
freedom, those who arrested me will never be at ease; and that is what you
have done! That is why I am grateful to you!
When the time comes we will send delegations to thank the authorities of
the countries that accepted the refugees. My mother was a refugee in
Ghana; it is when she felt that she is on the point of dying she decided to go
and die in her village. Those countries that offered us hospitality in difficult
times we must go and show them appreciation: au Ghana, au Togo, au
Benin, au Liberia etc.
We should not forget but continue to tell the Ivorian government to allow
our brothers who are still in an exile to come back home; either we have
gone over a difficult moment or we have not. If we have, and the problem is
solved why should we still accept that there are brothers, friends, and
comrades in an exile in disastrous conditions? No! Let us allow them to
come home! I discussed it with the president Ouattara and I will say it
again, it is time to create the conditions so that all the sons and daughters
of this country who wish to return, come home they should be able to come
without being intimidated. It is one aspect of our immediate struggle and
we will continue it.
Those in prison, yes! Concerning the prisoners I told president Ouattara
during the audience he accorded us and I will say it again! The people went
to prison because of me! I, I am outside, they, what are they doing inside
prison? They have nothing to do with prison from the moment I was not
found guilty and I was discharged! I demanded and I will demand again our
compatriots who are still in prison either civilian or military they must
come and join us outside. This should not be a fight it is a simple logic
therefore help me, let us mobilize so that we ask for freedom for our
prisoners!
I would like to salute the people of the diaspora, the African people of the
diaspora and the Ivorian of the diaspora. We were at Achébénougé, we were
not many and one day somebody told that in fact ivorians are stubborn! I
asked why? He said every week end they are in front of the prison! They
have never be tired being there!
It is true the African diaspora has worked a lot! They fought for our
freedom! Every weekend they are in front of the prison and sometimes if we
have to live the prison to the court they have to pass different and many
routes because the roads were occupied by the Africans coming from
everywhere especially from Paris! I salute you, I salute that diaspora who
has refused to forget and has not forgotten, and did not make us to forget!
Because the worse that can happen to a prisoner is to be forgotten. If you
are forgotten you are dead! But when there are articles everywhere and
always in Europe, on the American continent, as long as Gbagbo is in
prison for obscure reasons, you are not forgotten! Because people would
like to know why are they saying “for obscure reasons”! And the people will
be asking, and the office of the prosecutor was helping us with their
judiciary carelessness, that fuel the curiosity of the people and the people
were questioning! One time they brought a witness, a lady who claimed she
was raped, the president of the tribunal asked her: where you raped by this
man? Then she said no, as for this man I don‟t know him! Those are the
things that were happening and in law they look for the one who committed
the crime! How come somebody like me Gbagbo they can put in my
charges: rape!
It is not necessary to arrest people when there are no serious accusations
against them. Often I tell my visitors that I am not a prisoner but an
hostage, I am an hostage and I am here so that others can govern, if not all
that they are saying do not concern me, when I came the judges came to the
same conclusions two times; in 2013 when they should examine the charges
to see if the charges can be used to prosecute me, two against one said NO!
There is not enough evidence to go to court. They said it does not matter
you must go. And this can be checked in the CPI achieves! And it is true!
And towards the end of 2018, the last quarter there was the same results
two judges out of three have decided that I am innocent and free of all
charges!
Dear brothers and sisters this is me before you! Before you to start again
our path, to start together our path! Why am I saying this, I am saying this
because there are a lot of speculations, unacceptable statements which have
been being said: Gbagbo will no more do politics, Gbagbo will go and sit in
his village! I want to know when I wanted to start politics did I ask their
opinion?
Even my father and my mother I did not ask them their opinion. But they,
because it is they who brought me up with certain values, it is natural for
them that I do politics. My father took his first political card membership in
1947, I was two years old when my father took his first political card! My
father was imprisoned at Asabu in 1964, he was a political prisoner! My
sister is among you, at that time we did not know where to go? I the elder, I
was nineteen years old, but we have survived and we were told to work and
have our certificate and live our lives! One day I left school to go and look
for a job because none of us, I and my sisters and brothers have nothing to
live on.
Luckily I did not get a job, friends I went to, to help me get a job, they died
when I was in prison, maître Rene Kanga et August Denis George former
MP of San Pedro they all advised me to go back to school, soon you will
have your „A‟ level and get scholarship! Why do you want to waste your life!
These two friends I always think about them because they help me to keep
focus! They belong to the PDCI (Houphoet Boigny Party) I am not a
member of PDCI I was nobody because I was nobody there was nothing
opposing PDCI, but they show friendship! They explain to me Gbagbo we
are in the boarding house you are eating and we are going for lectures,
exercise patience and you will get it. I follow their advice and I passed the A
level and the rest is history!
They are saying I will no more do politics, why do they want me to stop
doing politics! Now that I am seventy six years old they want to give me a
calendar for my political life, I Gbagbo! I don‟t understand them! “What
you did not do, you want to undo it!” why? The man before you, you don‟t
know him and you want to find and political calendar for him! Me, I will do
politics till my death! It is I and I alone who will determine how to do
politics in which form, there are people older than me who are into politics.
Stop that debate, in fact I don‟t want to hear it again because it is not their
problem.
I and my friends are in together in an entity called political party. We
decide what is good for us not others who will decide for me to go and sit in
my village! Do they know my village, it is sad but I, I am not in politics to
make some happy and others sad! I am putting on the political market my
ideas and together with friends we discuss them and do what we want with
them!
Since I came, since I am jobless I watch television and that, since Bruxelles
that is when I got to know those young artistes that help me a lot to have
fun and new ideas.
People are saying Gbagbo always come with new ideas during Houphoet
Boigny time he came with democracy, now he is talking about pan
Africanism? Where is it coming from? I am telling you where it is coming
from. It is Kwame Nkrumah who wrote Africa Must Unite but I may say
Kwame Nkrumah was former students in USA; he who wrote Africa Must
Unite. Look at the USA; they are 200 years of independence they fought
hard for it. They started with 13 states; we can compare it with ECOWAS
today! They thought it is not enough, and after the secession war they
added all the other states that were forming, today they are about fifty one
states.
So far as Africa remains with smaller states, is that not given you some
imaginations! look at the world today the powerful states are huge in size:
China, Russia, the USA, Canada they are countries which are huge in size,
but in Africa each person can be a president in his village, with this tiny
countries we are not independent, it doesn‟t make us powerful.
I visited China and they played the Ivorian national anthem; but what were
my thoughts when they were playing the anthem? I thought they were
fooling me, because apparently we were two heads of states, two nationals
anthems, two delegations we were discussing but I am nobody in front of
the china president.
When you go to France and visit the Elysée and they mount the guard, the
French president comes to meet you, you feel big, but the one receiving you
did not see you important, in reality you are not important, politically you
are not important?
My brothers so far as we are in a micro states we are nobody that is the
source of pan Africanism it worthless to be chasing theories! Consider the
facts, with all humility I don‟t want to cite countries so that I embarrass
people I was head of state before too; let us be realistic! The countries they
talk about a bit in Africa who has a little bit of economic power are Nigeria,
South Africa Egypt at least they are a little bigger but what about us? We
have cocoa, we are the first producer of cocoa and San Pedro is the biggest
cocoa harbor and so?
Do you know the cause of the problem between Houphoet Boigny and the
world Bank, towards the end of his reign?
He attempted to block the cocoa so that the price will go up. When the
World Bank saw that they diversified the production of cocoa, they gave
money to Malaysia to develop the production of cocoa. They have the
means.
Look at Europe who colonized most Africa, today each country of Europe is
small, since the end of the Second World War they unclench the process of
coming together, they created one currency, we don‟t just create one
currency like that! They are advancing, that process will lead to the creation
of one nation in future which can challenge the USA, Russia, China those
are the blocks that are being shaped: the USA, Russia, China, Europe while
we are still small countries. No, no, no and no. we must open our eyes.
Today we have Africa and the Latin America who are fragmented. Therefore
African states must unite. That is why PPACI must appeal to other
progressive parties to come together.
I heard somebody saying when Gbagbo was a president he did not do
anything, I thank him but I started and they launched war against me.
There are some people who talk as if the war was not a real reality but the
war was there!
I was the first Ivorian president who got elected an Ivorian at the head of
the OAU because I believe in the pan African Organisation and I wanted
Kone Yaye and the general secretary here at Mawa; who is a skilled
diplomat. He was the last general secretary of OAU and the first president
of the African commission. I did that.
I work such that the cocoa commission which was at London came to
Abidjan Dane Gégé was the agriculture minister at that time, then the war
started and all my worries was to end the war, for ten years war! For ten
years I virtually have no government, it is from outside they were dictating
to me if you want the war to end, you have to take such and such as prime
minister. They are competent and nice people but they were not our prime
ministers. The only prime minister I named during my first term was Affy
Ngussan during the second term the prime minister I named was Aki Mbo!
Aki Mbo could not take office when the war came to sweep us.
Therefore the pan Africanism is not a slogan! It is a reality! When you have
a certain height, small and you have only cocoa to put on the table, you
cannot raise your shoulders and walk before the people, when you are
passing people are laughing, when they are playing your national anthem
people smile! That is why when I was head of state I don‟t ask to travel and
visit European nations! Because when you ask to visit them they think you
are coming to ask something! I was going where they invited me. I went to
France three times because three times they invited me. I went to Italy
because I was invited; I went to china because I was invited! When you are
at the head of a small country obviously poor, when you ask for official visit
the people think you are going to ask something, no, no you must learn to
manage! That is why we have done a secure budget, it means we spent what
we earn that is secure budget we must be simple in our language. We were
spending hundred billions a month for salaries of workers and we secure
them and for other expenditures we manage to get them. It was a personal
proud for me to face other expenditures without borrowing. I started
building Yamoussokro, the presidential palace is to be delivered in 2012 I
was arrested in 2011, the palace is still there in completed, the president is
there but I am not here for that, but I can say that we did not biorrow any
money. It is our capital town may be that is what they are accusing me off,
to beat my chest and say it is our capital! Our parliament, our presidential
palace I will not borrow for that! Where we borrow money is how to get to
Yamoussokro, there was a motorway which stop at Singbogborogbo I
borrow from the Arabs and we have built the motorway up to Yamoussokro.
My dear friends we have created the PPACI, there is no need to come back
and explain why we are creating a party because there are some polemic
that are useless.
We are ready but there is no need to over explain when the issues are sterile
and will not bring anything to the national debate.
You have elected me as the president of the party I thank you, I thank you
but what I want to say I said it already, it is no one business to fix the end of
my political career, it belong to me and my comrade.
Now what I want to tell you is that we have face challenges in the past
because I left the head of the party in 2001 as the constitution stated it but
there was no preparation handing over and that led us to the catastrophe
that we all know. People they planted things in their head, that the ears can
be bigger than the head, ears cannot be bigger than the head else you are a
monster. We must prepare the withdrawal of the elders! It is something
that is prepared! The structure of the party that I want and I suggest to you,
is a structure to prepare my retirement! It is a structure that tomorrow I
can go peacefully to my village without regret! It is a structure that allow
the party itself to control the one leading it! I worked months and months
for that, from my liberation from La hay, since I was in Bruxelles, since I
was in la Cote d‟Ivoire I was working on that, how to leave without hurting
our working tool for we must have a working tool, we must have our
struggle tool but how not to break it as we did the first time that is why I did
some few arrangements. My dear friends my ambition today is to leave, not
to leave and abandon you, I will always be a militant of our party, a foot
soldier, now I don t need to be going on demonstration that I can lead a
party or I cannot lead a party; I led a party and led a country. If the
circumstances decide I am ready. De Gaulle did not decide to be a head of
state, it is the circumstances that brought him to power. If the
circumstances bring somebody to power yes, but at this age the wise thing
to do is to prepare to leave. I decided not to go all of a sudden because once
it happened and it did not succeed. I will go but know that I am with you,
all the struggles that we have to fight we will fight them together. I will not
allow anybody to deicide for me, let us make sure the party has the capacity
to lead, that is the capacity I am fighting for! May God bless the Ivory
Coast!


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